Salem wanted to kill Azharuddin, say police

Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:Former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin was on the hit list of gangster Abu Salem, Mumbai police sources said today although they were not sure what made Salem target the Hyderabad-based cricketer.

Apart from Azharuddin, there was one more prominent personality who was on Salem's hit list, the sources said refusing to divulge the identity of the second person.

The plot to kill Azharuddin was bared almost a month ago when an associate of jailed gangster Subhash Singh Thakur, held by Aurangabad police in a cheating case, made some statements, the sources said.

The associate Feroz Aziz Khan alias Yousuf told Aurangabad police that a team of Salem gang was camping at Pune and was likely to proceed to Hyderabad to eliminate Azharuddin, the sources said.

Acting on the tip-off, the Maharashtra police alerted their Andhra Pradesh counterpart, following which Azharuddin was provided adequate security, the sources added.

The Aurangabad police reportedly launched a probe but did not succeed in tracing the shooters nor could it ascertain the motive, they said.

"We too have not been able to ascertain the motive since the gang that was supposed to execute is at large," a senior Mumbai crime branch official told PTI.

Feroz Aziz Khan, police sources said, is currently in custody of Andheri police as he is wanted in several cases of robbery, cheating and extortion.

State Director General of Police, Dr P S Pasricha, was even more cautious while talking to reporters and refused to divulge the name of the gangster who bared the murder plan, or the gang that had planned it.

"It will not be in the interest of security to divulge name of the gang," Pasricha said.

The DGP denied that involvement of the Pakistan's ISI was found in Azharuddin's murder plan as reported in the media. It was planned by a known crime mafia, Pasricha said, adding that the gangster who confessed about the knowledge of the plan belonged to Subhash Singh Thakur gang.

Pasricha said that the gangster divulged that the mafia was planning to pin down two personalities, one of them being Azharuddin.

Mohammed Azharuddin is perhaps the only cricketer who has been targeted by the underworld. Security around his residence in Hyderabad has been stepped up, police sources further said.

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